And the Angels Sing

 And the Angels Sing 

I can’t sing.  It’s not that I don’t have good singing bloodlines.  My ancestry is a heavy mix mainly of Irish and German.  I’ve been to Ireland; apparently EVERYONE there can not only sing, but they all have won some kind of competition for doing so. Germany also enjoys a reputation for music and voices.  All I can guess is that my ancestors forgot to pack the voice gene when they emigrated from the old country – at least for me. 

My first clash with the reality of the poor quality of my singing voice came when my brother Gary returned home, freshly discharged from the Marines after serving a tour of duty in Viet Nam.  One of the items he brought home with him was a SONY reel-to-reel tape recorder.  I don’t know what he planned to do with it, but my brother Mike and sister Sandy and I recorded some silly songs.  As I recall, I astounded my family with a regrettable rendition of the jingle from a JELLO commercial.  I’m told that most people find it hard to believe that’s what they sound like when first recorded, but I found it hard to believe and very hard to listen to.  I was quite relieved when Gary recorded something else over my segment of the tape.

Then harsh reality was confirmed a few years later when I was in eighth grade.  I attended St. Jude Catholic grade school on the west side of Green Bay.  The grades always rotated leading the music for the school Masses.  I recall quite vividly, right after we led the opening hymn, not one, but two female classmates seated directly in front of me, spun around and urged me, “Can you just not sing!  You sound horrible!  Just move your lips but don’t make any sound.”  Unfortunately for them, and the rest of the people within earshot, my sense of obligation was larger than my shock, and I did continue to sing as best I could.  That was painful for me and apparently others as well, although I suspect that I’m the only one who remembers all these years later.

I sang love songs one evening to my wife when we were dating.  I remember telling her about my Eighth-grade choir story just afterward.  While she agreed that my classmates may have been a little harsh, her own assessment accompanied by a shoulder shrug, was, “Well you are kind of tone deaf.”  She married me anyway; in return for said favor, I have not sung any more wooing songs.

My biggest struggle with singing these days is, as a deacon, I am around church people a lot.  That means being around Directors of Worship, Music Directors and various choir sorts.  These people love to sing EVERYTHING.  These are the people who believe that the answer to all problems church is more music, different music, contemporary music, traditional music, and did I say more music?  They are quick to quote St Augustine as saying that: “When you sing, you pray twice.”  And, if you still don’t share their enthusiasm for music they will remind you that when we get to Heaven we will be singing FOR ETERNITY!  Truthfully, for me that’s not overly inspirational.     

The only person who never complained about my singing was my daughter Elizabeth.  When I rocked her at night I always sang “You are My Sunshine” to her.  Of course, I sang as softy and as low as possible.  Elizabeth, no matter how fussy she was feeling, always settled right down.  She even asked me to sing it to her.  In full disclosure this singing success was limited to the first four years of her life.

But my heart was very happy this Christmas season and singing was the reason in the season.  One evening between Christmas and New Year Michelle and I visited with Elizabeth and her two children.   Elizabeth suggested to Molly, aged 2 ½, that Grandma and Grandpa would like to hear her sing, Silent Night.  And so, without hesitation, but also without stopping to play with her Legos, she began:

“Silent Night.  Holy Night.  All is calm.  Sleep in Heavenly p EACE.  Please don’t take my sunshine away.”   

His Peace; His Heavenly Peace <><

Deacon Dan

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash